EC's London summit to plan war against crime

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BRITAIN is to host a European Community summit on organised crime next month, officials in London confirmed yesterday. The meeting shows how concerned the Twelve have become in the face of rising Mafia activities throughout the EC, and that they are determined to show that the reduction of border controls does not mean less security.

The summit will bring together interior and justice ministers 'with the aim of organising a common and ruthless offensive against the Mafia', Paul Quiles, the French Interior Minister, said in Le Figaro yesterday. British officials said that the summit would probably be held in London.

Mr Quiles said in his article that the removal of European borders from next January will make it easier for the authorities to co-operate. The Maastricht treaty, due to come into force next year, includes provisions for tighter co-operation on policing matters.

The summit is likely to look at improving co-operation between police authorities, at controls on money laundering, and possibly at revision of the EC's legal framework. A directive on money-laundering was agreed earlier this year, but is mainly aimed at the financial aspects of the problem, rather than the criminal procedures.

The meeting was first suggested when Mr Quiles and his Italian counterpart met last month in Rome. Italy has mobilised troops and the security services against the Mafia in Sicily, after the murder last month of Paolo Borsellino, the leading anti-Mafia judge. But though Sicily is the Mafia's main hunting ground, its influence is increasingly being felt throughout the Community. Germany is also concerned about the spread of money laundering, protection rackets and drug smuggling, as well as Mafia investment in legitimate sectors.

A special meeting of the French cabinet was being held last night to discuss rising crime in Corsica. Twenty-five people have been killed in the island this year, and helicopter-borne bandits stole dollars 2m ( pounds 1m) from an aircraft at Bastia airport last week.